Are you capable of forgiving, even though you haven’t forgotten? Forgiveness helps you deal with all of the negative emotions that would otherwise remain bottled inside. It makes you feel better and research suggests that it may also have a vast range of health benefits.
Holding on stubbornly to a grudge could be worse for yourself than for the person that did you wrong. Start practicing forgiveness today and you’ll get to enjoy such a tremendous range of benefits. Here are some of the most important ones.
Why is Forgiveness Beneficial?
Understanding what forgiveness is can shed some light on why it happens to be so beneficial.
Each person has a specific definition of forgiveness that’s quite heavily dependent on context. One thing is certain, however – forgiveness is linked to positive emotions. People that forgive are moved by feelings of goodwill, regardless of the fact that somebody has wronged them.
The failure to forgive is characterized by a negative emotional state and holding on to the anger/hurt. Very often, people that can’t forgive experience resentment or even hatred towards the person that has hurt them. An interesting experiment shows that holding on to these negative emotions leads to physiological changes. When they were asked to think about someone that had done them wrong, people that were still hurt experienced an increase in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and profuse sweating. Their body immediately got in a state of emergency, hence stress. Needless to say, this stress can have negative health consequences in the long run.
The Health Benefits of Forgiveness
Why should you consider letting it go and dealing with the negative emotions? Apart from making you feel much better about yourself and your relationships with others, forgiveness can also impact your health:
A Vast Range of Additional Benefits
It makes you feel good and it improves your health – these are just two of the reasons why you should consider forgiving people and moving on with your life. Practicing mindful forgiveness can benefit your life in several additional ways, especially when it comes to your relationships with others.
A part improving the relationship between the person that needs to forgive and the one that’s asking for forgiveness, the act can “spill over” to other relationships, as well. A study presented in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that people who forgive are more likely to get involved with volunteer activities, social causes and altruistic behaviors towards friends and relatives. As a result, these people tend to enjoy a satisfactory social life and a feeling of being a valuable member of community.
What’s even more interesting, forgiveness seems to affect our perception of reality and our performance. Researchers worked with volunteers and they presented the interesting results of their experiment in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science. The volunteers were divided in two groups – members of the first group were asked to write about someone that they’ve forgiven and members of the second group – about someone that they simply couldn’t forgive.
Once the letters were written, the members of the two group were taken to the foot of a hill. The people that hadn’t forgiven saw the hill as steeper. The volunteers were also asked to jump up and down. People that belonged to the forgiving group jumped seven centimeters higher on average!
Learning how to forgive can be difficult, especially if you’ve been wronged seriously in the past. Still, holding on to the negative emotions seems to be doing you more harm than affecting the guilty party. Once you let go, deal with the anger and move on with your life, you’ll find out just how personally fulfilling forgiveness can be.